It’s an interesting time to be a man, to say the least.
Things like conventional masculinity and the patriarchy are being called out, and no longer universally accepted.
Simultaneously, backlash from men’s rights advocates, digital or otherwise, is also on the rise.
So what does this mean for the rest of us? Where do we fit in?
I get it–being a man can be a little puzzling nowadays.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the behaviors you can strive towards if becoming a better man is your goal.
We all have to start somewhere. Let’s dive in!
1) Toxic masculinity
Let’s start things off with an obvious one.
If there’s one thing for certain in this world, change is inevitable.
A significant part of the toxic masculinity idealogy is the notion that men must stick to the traditional mold of being dominant, strong, and emotionless.
They have to be the hunters, the providers, the alpha dogs.
The issue with this way of thinking is that it clings to some outdated, traditional gender roles, and shunning just about everything else.
This leads to feelings of repression and unaddressed hostility, which can manifest in some really destructive, occasionally violent, behaviors.
If you want to be a better man, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and break away from stereotypes.
Doing so will invariably result in more authentic connections, as well as heightened self-awareness and self-understanding.
Forget the online grifters, the Andrew Tates of the world. You deserve better.
2) Avoidance of emotional expression
Speaking of suppressing emotions, this is one practice that urgently needs to go.
We need to unlearn the behaviors that have been so deeply ingrained in us for generations.
I’ll admit that I’m still going through the process.
I still feel ashamed to cry or show emotions, subconsciously considering these things “unmanly” and therefore embarrassing.
I vividly remember that as a sensitive eight-year-old kid, I was scared of dogs.
One time, an overzealous, friendly dog of a relative jumped on me wanting to play. I ran away in fear.
My intolerant father responded to this perceived weakness by calling me a “f*g.”
His sentiment affected me for the next couple of decades–no longer was I the expressive kid unafraid to show emotion.
I gradually became guarded, scared I would somehow be profanely reprimanded like I was a child.
And though I forgive my dad now (who is thankfully remorseful these days) the damage has unfortunately been done.
Moral of the story? Don’t be that dad from the late 90s.
Encourage emotion and vulnerability, don’t berate it.
3) Competitive behavior
These days, we glorify the killer.
Not literally, of course–I’m referring to the guy with the overly competitive, overly testosteroned, bully mentality.
He won’t back down and wants to win at all costs.
Sure, there is a degree of admiration for some of these traits; I mean a bit of healthy competition is motivating–I think we can all attest to this.
But it can be toxic when you’re preoccupied with comparing yourself to others—and find yourself feeling jealous of their successes–as if that takes away from your alpha status.
This mentality is rooted in some deep-seated insecurity: by feeling you have to constantly win at everything, you’re denying yourself the opportunity for failure, an essential human experience.
4) Not taking responsibility
If you want to be a better man, start taking accountability for your wrongs.
Sorry, but it’s not very manly to constantly deflect blame onto others for your own mistakes.
Enough with the excuses.
It takes a real man to own up to shortcomings and use the lessons to come back stronger, as a better overall person.
Going back to the example of my dad, sure, he was bigoted and borderline abusive throughout my childhood… but he has also since atoned for his behavior, fully taking accountability for his mistakes, and tirelessly working to make things right.
Don’t buy into the “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mentality–everyone has the capability to evolve and grow for the better.
5) Having a dismissive attitude
Real talk: the “my way or the highway” is another attitude that needs to go.
It’s a mindset rooted in stubbornness, selfishness, and a distinct lack of empathy.
If you want to be a better man, start taking the concerns of others seriously, particularly those who are foreign to you.
It’s a common human tendency to treat “the other” with hostility or fear.
But the real man is open to everyone–they don’t feel threatened by differences.
Besides, being scared of new things? Not very macho.
Just because someone is different from you isn’t grounds for being dismissive.
The old-school mentality is that if one grew up a certain way, then that’s that–anything to disrupt the antiquated status quo is labeled “woke” or unnecessary.
This is demeaning to others’ struggles, particularly marginalized groups.
Trust me, taking the high road on this one will certainly contribute to your improved manhood.
6) Uncontrolled rage
It’s always bothered me that men like to expose their casual misogyny by labeling women “emotional.”
But here’s the thing: who starts all the wars in the world? The bar fights? The violent acts of criminal aggression?
Well, the vast majority is… yes, you guessed correctly.
So if you want to rise above the rest and claim your title as a better man, it’s best to keep your anger firmly in check.
Stay calm and collected when you’re faced with opposition or conflict, instead of reacting with unbridled aggression like some frenzied, snowflake-like loose cannon.
Take steps to address your anger issues calmly, such as seeking professional help.
Despite what society has conditioned you to think, you aren’t alone.
There’s always someone willing to listen, but you have to make the first move.
I’ll be honest, the fact that you’ve taken the initiative to make it this far into the article, you’re in good shape.
As a man, remember to keep evolving–the process never really ends.
Actively work to let go of the behaviors holding you back.
Don’t feel discouraged–we’re all on our own unique journeys, and sometimes they’re not always linear or pretty.
As long as you’re trying, you’re growing and a better man than you were yesterday.
Don’t let up. History will remember you kindly.